After creating the Soviet Union, Lenin died and a ruthless power struggle transformed Russia into the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin. World War II was followed by bipolar Cold War opposition with the West. The experiment of communism finally collapsed in 1991, having survived for 74 years.
World War II was the most widespread and destructive war in history. It was a military conflict that grew out of the consequences of the First World War. The Soviet Union came out of World War II more powerful than ever. The only balancing power was the United States of America (US).
After World War II, people found themselves in a bipolar world order with two opposing camps: Liberal democratic Western countries, led by the US, and the communist states of the Eastern Bloc, led by the USSR. Although there was no outright global war between the two, there were many regional ones. So the second half of the 20th century, until 1991, became known as the, “Era of Cold War.”
The Khrushchev Thaw was followed by the 20-year-rule of Leonid Brezhnev. It was a time of relaxed foreign relations and internal standstill. During Brezhnev’s, “Era of Stagnation,” the Soviet Union became politically, economically, and socially backward, and the need for reforms grew increasingly acute.